Long-term glycemic control and dementia risk in type 1 diabetes

Mary E. Lacy, Paola Gilsanz, Andrew J. Karter, Charles P. Quesenberry, Mark J. Pletcher, Rachel A. Whitmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Individuals with type 1 diabetes have experienced an increase in life expectancy, yet it is unknown what level of glycemic control is ideal for maintaining late-life brain health. We investigated the association of long-term glycemic control with dementia in older individuals with type 1 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We followed 3,433 members of a health care system with type 1 diabetes, aged ‡50 years, from 1996 to 2015. Repeated measurements of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), dementia diagnoses, and comorbidities were ascertained from health records. Cox proportional hazards models were fit to evaluate the association of time-varying glycemic exposure with dementia, with adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, baseline health conditions, and frequency of HbA1c measurement. RESULTS Over a mean follow-up of 6.3 years, 155 individuals (4.5%) were diagnosed with dementia. Patients with ‡50% of HbA1c measurements at 8–8.9% (64–74 mmol/ mol) and ‡9% (‡75 mmol/mol) had 65% and 79% higher risk of dementia, respectively, compared with those with <50% of measurements exposed (HbA1c 8–8.9% adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 1.65 [95% CI 1.06, 2.57] and HbA1c ‡9% aHR 1.79 [95% CI 1.11, 2.90]). By contrast, patients with ‡50% of HbA1c measurements at 6–6.9% (42–52 mmol/mol) and 7–7.9% (53–63 mmol/mol) had a 45% lower risk of dementia (HbA1c 6–6.9% aHR 0.55 [95% CI 0.34, 0.88] and HbA1c 7–7.9% aHR 0.55 [95% CI 0.37, 0.82]). CONCLUSIONS Among older patients with type 1 diabetes, those with majority exposure to HbA1c 8–8.9% and ‡9% had increased dementia risk, while those with majority exposure to HbA1c 6–6.9% and 7–7.9% had reduced risk. Currently recommended glycemic targets for older patients with type 1 diabetes are consistent with healthy brain aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2339-2345
Number of pages7
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the American Diabetes Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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